Ever since the infamous grim reaper ad in the 1980’s, you’re forgiven for being nervous about the risks of unprotected sex. Although most STIs are treatable, there are some that have no cure: HIV, HPV and Hepatitis.
So when it comes to having unprotected sex, you want to be sure that your partner ( whether long-term or casual) is clean. The only issue: when you do ask, some women might not take it well.
Author of online course Blackbelt In The Bedroom‘, Jacqueline Hellyer, says delivery is crucial and to treat your partner respectfully by making it a mutual experience.
“It’s a respect thing, it’s a safety thing. If you’re raising it, you’re raising it out of respect for her and as a couple – out of respect for your bodies, your health and wellbeing. Make it a mutual thing so you’re not just asking her or telling her,” says Hellyer who runs couple retreats in Bali and the Blue Mountains.
It’s also important to recognise that making sure you’re having safe sex is a natural part of a relationship, says the sex therapist.
“What’s really more important is treating it like it’s a normal part of a relationship development – ‘Hey look this is getting more serious, why don’t we get tests?'”
However, just because you’re partner says they’re clean, be aware that you can’t trust anyone until it’s on paper. If they do carry an untreatable STI or think they might, it’s important to be calm.
“Unless you know they’ve had a test and they haven’t had sex with anyone since, then you don’t really know. (If they tell you they have something), thank them for being honest. It’s a really good sign that she can be honest with you – it’s not easy for someone to admit something like that. No need to speak about it, find out more information about the STI,” continues Hellyer.
“If she has an STI, not herpes, but most of the others are a temporary thing and when you find out, you get treated for it. Something like herpes is a little different – everyone reacts differently to it. Some people might have a breakout and then never again.” Hellyer suggests “finding out more about her situation and her management plan.”
In any case, STIs are a serious topic and it’s important to gather as much information as possible and stay safe to reduce the health risks involved.
“Everyone needs to accept that you wear condoms until you’re sure you don’t need to. If it’s a new relationship you wear protection until you can get tested,” explains Hellyer.
“If you’re having a hot time with someone, you’re going down on them and suddenly you go ‘hey, have you by any chance got herpes,’ you’ll spoil the moment and if anything, she’s going to say no. It’s not a time to stop and go ‘well look yeah, i think i carry the virus. I had an outbreak about 10 years ago but nothing since’ or ‘once or twice, i don’t think it’s active.’ Really if you’re going to have this conversation, if it’s going to be an issue for you, you’ve got to be doing it before you get into the bedroom… if you want to go down on a stranger, know there’s a risk, even if it’s not huge.”
“If you want to have sex with someone without protection and you don’t know their sexual history. It’s a risk to not only your own health, but your future partner’s health – it’s not really respectful.”
When you do get past the question stage and find out that your partner has something or you let your partner know you’re carrying something, it’s important to learn more about the STI, what the management plan and how to prevent any infection, adds Hellyer.
If unprotected sex has you worried, check out the warning signs and how to treat the common STI.